What is Performance Assessment?
Performance assessment or sports performance assessment is a detailed evaluation of the entire body to maximize the athletic potential of an athlete. The assessment evaluates an athlete’s body in motion to detect faulty movement patterns that may hinder peak performance. Gradually, faulty movement patterns can result in:
- Increased risk of injuries
- Increased joint and muscle-related stress
- Imbalances as a result of muscle inhibition and muscle over-activation
- Limited performance
- Biomechanical issues
The data collected during performance assessment helps to overcome these limitations by devising a personalized program to maximize their athletic potential. By assessing fascial and muscle flexibility/mobility, muscle activation pattern, joint stability, and structural positioning, we can precisely identify muscle imbalances, structural asymmetries, and compensatory movement patterns. This assessment is followed by a comprehensive customized plan to address the findings and assist you to accomplish maximum performance.
Objectives of Performance Assessments
Effective performance development programs should comprise specific objectives to challenge the athletes. In order to set effective goals, it is significant to have a picture of where the athlete is currently across several parameters. The performance assessment protocols provide the coach, the athlete, and the team’s dedicated sports medicine practitioners the current picture of the athletes with respect to their development and ways to improvise their athletic ability. A sports performance assessment protocol may include:
- Medical Monitoring: Performance assessment protocol warrants the athlete to complete a detailed medical history form followed by a review of this with a sports physician in a one-on-one consultation session. When we include this into a team training camp case, every athlete will spend around 10 to 15 minutes with the doctor reviewing their medical history and any current or previous injuries. In the situation that further tests or medical conditions are indicated, the athlete is usually referred back to their designated sports physician or family physician where the provincial health plan will support the needed investigations and assessments.
- Injury Case Management: In this performance assessment plan, athletes will receive help from performance coaches who will provide them access to the medical system should an illness or injury present itself. It is particularly important at the highest stages of sport that athletes have prompt access to proper diagnostic and treatment procedures that they need. Performance assessment staff will follow up with the involved athletes and practitioners to evaluate progress and consult on any extra support that may be needed.
- Functional Assessment: Functional assessment is another fundamental element in the performance assessment protocol. During this assessment, athletes individually spend around 45 to 60 minutes with a practitioner who identifies their mechanical or postural issues, evaluates their functional strengths and weaknesses, and provides certain guidelines for avoiding injury and improving performance. After the assessment, the athlete is presented with a specific plan of action, and the coaching staff is provided with some common recommendations that could be assimilated into their training program. Following up with a strength and conditioning consultant, if one is already not involved, is also recommended for a customized conditioning regimen that addresses the identified weaknesses.
- Fitness Assessment: This comprises a battery of physical tests that are usually performed in the field and may include:
- Strength profiling to ascertain muscle strength utilizing an isokinetic dynamometer and explosive strength capability utilizing force plate diagnostics
- Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) to evaluate integrative exercise feedback involving the skeletal muscle, hematopoietic, cardiovascular, and pulmonary systems with measurements of carbon dioxide production (VCO2), respiratory oxygen uptake (VO2), and ventilatory measures in the course of a maximal exercise test
- Power and movement evaluation including a string of jump-landing tests on a force plate to establish performance characteristics and potential inter-limb compensations, by which individuals ‘off-load’, with a dominance towards a specific limb
- Musculoskeletal screening with the measurement of joint function, stability, and range of motion
- Nutrition and Lifestyle Assessment: In this assessment, the services of certified dietitians are used to assess general nutritional requirements of athletes with respect to their sports and also to evaluate their nutritional practice through self-reported food intake sheets. Based on this feedback, the practitioners then develop a specific diet plan and strategies with the athletes and their coaches to target any identified deficiencies.
Following the above performance assessments, a final comprehensive performance report is generated and provided to the athlete with identified strengths and weaknesses that can be addressed through training. Further referral can also be made to either an orthopedic or sport and exercise medicine consultant or physical performance specialist if needed.